Poker and Luck.

Its drives us mad sometimes doesn’t it, getting it in there with the best hand and losing, or betting all the way to the river and then someone who should have folded ages ago makes a better hand than yours. And we have heard it so many times on the poker table; “I’d rather be lucky than good”. But this generally comes from people who are neither lucky or good!

The Final Table In A Texas Holdem Poker Tournament

So what is going on? Reaching the final table at a poker tournament is always a great accomplishment, and even more so when the tourney started with a high number of entries. To reach final table, most players will have their share of that winning with the worst hand sort of luck, especially when playing no-limit Texas Hold’em Poker.

Poker and LuckBut that’s me, however when it comes to professional poker players, luck doesn’t seem to play such a big part in whether they reach the final table or not. They have to avoid bad luck, but they don’t seem to need good luck.

Let’s take an example of a final table and examine the luck factor. One or two skilled poker players reach the final table even though they’ve had no luck throughout the tournament. The rest of the players, including the skillful ones, have had a run of good luck to get there.

This table has lots of logical and strategic implications which are workth understanding.

For experienced players, playing at the final table with people who have had a run of good luck to get there suits them perfectly.


New, inexperienced, and non-strategic players start to think they can get away with anything, especially if they’ve been running lucky the entire tournament. That same luck has made them think that the law of averages doesn’t apply to them and that they can outplay everyone. Their run of good luck has made them think that they are a good player. But they are not, they are just lucky.

Because of their come-from-behind lucky wins and their big hands, they think they will win no matter which hand they are dealt. If they have been lucky with flushes, they think they will get them every time; if their bluffs worked every time before, they will think that all of their next bluffs will work. And they are forgetting the few times the bluffs didn’t work for them.

Luck And The Final Table

How To Bluff In PokerThis isn’t just about local pub games, it happens in major tournaments too. How many times have you heard about a hand that doesn’t make any sense, until you realize that one or both players have had a great deal of luck so far in the tournament? This run of luck explains why we sometimes see players falling apart during finishing stages of a tournament. They are relying on luck not skill.

At the end of the day, Texas holdem poker is about adaptation, but adaptation shouldn’t be based on luck. We have all made it to a final table which has a player, maybe even the chipleader, who doesn’t seem to know what they are doing. These types of players are likely to lose early in the final table, and if you are a good player you should be aiming to take their chips.

Its not only loose players that can make it to final table by being lucky. Tight players also have to be lucky to get there. They have to pick up enough good hands – and win with them – to get through. When it comes to final table, these players shouldn’t put themselves in unfamiliar situations with bad cards.

What does this mean? There are some loose and tight players that reach the final table and have done so because of luck. As the game goes on, loose and lucky players have the advantage over the tight and lucky players.

The Difference Of Being Loose And Lucky Or Tight And Lucky In Poker.

Bad players, who have the habit of playing with bad cards, have the advantage of being able to adapt, unlike the tight players that can’t play with bad cards. But despite the given hand, loose players are likely to win a lot of pots by getting their opponents to fold, while tight players will need to both get constantly good hands and be able to make the most out of their given hand.

Even though the “tight is right” rule works great most times, playing it tightly is different in every situation – playing tight in a 9 handed table, a 6 handed table, or in a heads-up, will all result in different outcomes.

The highly skilled poker players make the right decision based on mathematics, strategy, and the right timing. They stick to that method, even if sometimes they are unlucky.

Luck doesn’t play any part in starting with a higher EV than your opponent, winning while having good hands, or winning while having bad hands.

I Hate Being Beaten By Random Bad Cards

How To Bluff In PokerEven though it’s rare for players to find themselves in a heads-up situation in a freeze-out tournament with limited chips, they still have to abide by the same rule: Don’t get into situations you’re not comfortable with unless you have to. Getting onto the final table of the tournament by running lucky is most likely to result in a bad outcome.

Let’s assume that the players in a four handed game have a decent amount of chips. If one of the players has been relying on luck, they wont last in the game for long. The lucky player will think they can get away with anything.

The lucky player will be calling everything, even from the small blind with weak hands such as 93 offsuit. Why? Are they forgetting the fact that the next hand they will be on the button and can raise from position instead? They are leaking chips, reducing their power in the game and building up their opposition

What can be considered worse, players in position will sometimes adopt the standard raise even with good hands. They need to remember that some hands are better for busting an opponent, some for winning a middle-sized pot, and some for stealing the blinds.

Conclusion On Being Lucky Or Good In Poker

If you’re playing in a tournament, try hard to avoid any impulse play if you are running lucky. Instead, go with the mindset of making the most out of your position and be patient. Don’t fall in the trap of thinking you you can’t be beaten.

Try to distinguish the difference between players who are playing a reasonable and strategic game, and those that think they are invincible.

How To Bluff In PokerLuck inTexas holdem poker is a game of swings and roundabouts, good luck and bad luck. You need to capitalise on your good luck and make the most of it, and avoid the bad luck. Calling a pre-flop all-in when you have plenty of chips sounds like a good idea with half decent cards, but its not really. You should be protecting your stack – as soon as you go all in pre-flop you are putting everything in the hands of the poker gods and luck. This is not skill. Folding and preserving your chips when you are relying on a throw of the dice is being smart – you might win the next hand by skilful play

.In Texas holdem poker the element of luck is always present – a simple deuce can come on the river and change the the winning hand. Still, in heads-up situations, especially in the final table of a tournament, it’s better to learn to adapt and play strategically than going with crazy luck..

Dont forget that the hand you are in now, or the table you are on, or the tournament you are playing today, or all the poker tournament you play this week do not define your career. Success at poker is mapped out over the long term, and if you rely on luck you wont be successfull over the long term. Only skill will get you there.


If you want more information on this, I recommend The Biggest Bluff by Maria Konnikova – Maria investigates the difference between luck and skill and also investigates what it is exactly that makes the difference in real skill. Check The Biggest Bluff out here.

And if you want to see more of what Maria has written, look here;


Jack Diamond
Author: Jack Diamond